ArtLit, Blog, Essays

“Kasumpa-sumpa ang maging Pilipino sa panahong ito…”

In the library of Philippine feminist works, there is a poem that reads:

ang maging babae sa panahong ito:
Depinisyong pamana
ng nakaraa’t kasalukuyan…
Anong pag-ibig o pagpapakasakit?
Anong paglilingkod o pagtitiis?
Ikaw ang pundiya ng karsonilyo,
ang kurbata, maging ang burda sa panyo’t kamiseta.
Susukatin ang ganda mo sa kama,
ang talino sa pagkita ng pera.
Kumikita ang beer at sine,
nagdidildil ka ng pills…

Ruth E. S. Mabanglo’s “Ang Maging Babae” captures the frustrations of an oppressed identity. And in times like these –with an administration that boasts of crucifying the opposition, a legislature that’s scrambling to legalize discrimination, and a people that prefers alternative facts to reason– it is easy to replace “woman” with “Filipino”.

ang maging Pilipino sa panahong ito:
Depinisyong pamana
ng nakaraa’t kasalukuyan…

Continue reading ““Kasumpa-sumpa ang maging Pilipino sa panahong ito…””

Blog, Essays

Sunday Mass: How to Forgive

I liked the homily last Sunday for its relevance. I liked it so much I transcribed it (with liberal use of paraphrasing and translation).

Let me share the homily to you.

Christian Forgiveness

If a neighbor of yours scammed you out of 100,000 pesos, what would you do to forgive them? You might say, “I’ll pray for him.” Pwede. But do you know what I’ll do? I’ll file a case against him.

“Grabe, father!” You might react. But if you sue him, he will know he was wrong, and that’s when he’ll start to change. If you let him go, he’ll just move to another place and do the same thing.

He has to know he was in the wrong, even if it’s just by asking him to pay back the debt in increments.

When Jesus Christ forgave the woman, He didn’t say, “Go and keep sinning”. He said, “Go and sin no more”.

The aim of forgiveness is to help the person who has hurt you. So this is forgiveness – it is not forgetting, it is not letting go. It is making sure that the person is converted and changed.

Why am I inserting this into a homily about Christ the King? It’s because of what happened last Friday –Marcos was buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Continue reading “Sunday Mass: How to Forgive”

ArtLit, Blog, Essays

I am furious: #MarcosBurial


that the soul of one person
has been desecrated to dust
should call to arms a nation's heart
and set fire to a world of sorrow

but here we remain, the whole world burned.
the grass is razed and the trees are fallen.
there is no more fruit,
there will be no more gain.

we sit still, here, in our own warmth,
housed in a multitude of light,
while the embers of this play
build towers of dust around us.

this man's perversion of honor,
prostitution of life,
and profanity?
is not a question.
the dust of the departed calls to you:
scorch it, conquer it,
burn it to the ground!


Here lies a man, bare bones and sin
His children had to steal through the dark night for him
Beloved by many but reviled by even more
May his blood never rest, all ignoble foresworn



Hukayin ang puso at buksan ang damdamin, 
Ulitin ang tanong at subukang isipin:
Ang patay noo'y pinutulan ng diwa at dila, 
sinaksak, ginahasa at walang tigil na pinagdusa.
Walang boses ang bangkay at mga nang-iwang ulila,
maliban sa tinig at sigaw ng kanilang mga tagapagmana. 
Kaming mga anak at kamag-anak, kaibigan at apo
Tayong pinalaking mga tinuringang Pilipino.


Ilang bilyong dolyar at ilang milyong pangarap, 
tatlong libong patay at sandamakmak na hirap.
Mga salitang pabulong, mga talata't sanaysay, 
Hindi mabilang na bayani, mga buhay na inalay.

Kahit isang pursyento lamang 
ng mga bintang ang totoo
Hindi ba't sapat na ang isa
upang kilalanin siyang berdugo?

Burial in Secret

Yesterday, in a turn of events no one in my acquaintance expected, the ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos was hurriedly buried in Libingan ng Mga Bayani (Heroes’ Burial) by his family. He was buried with full honors in the manner of heroes; the Philippine flag was buried with him.

And his family, composed of thick-faced personalities and statesmen, had the audacity to come to the place as if it was a celebration and victory. There were same-edit videos of the event.

Every man has his human dignity, his final right to be buried with even the least amount of respect. But for a man and for a family who were behind at least a decade of blood, where thousands of Filipinos died without dignity and disappeared without a trace, it should have been clear. Not everyone has the right to die a hero.

Continue reading “I am furious: #MarcosBurial”

Blog, Essays

we may not have won tonight

Animals cannot be evil because they do not know what it means to be evil. But we do.

And as humanity we have long ago decided to know evil: to understand it intimately, to measure its extent, to judge its worth. To deny. In this manner we have become creatures capable of ethical choice.

This 2016, we have collectively allowed decisions founded on ideas we’ve already judged inhumane. Here comes the renaissance of discrimination and prejudice, the rejection of collective good, and the perversion of a democracy. Vox Populi, Vox Dei. 


Who stands on the right side of history? Who wears the face of evil’s intent?

Humans can be wrong, but we have ensured that power rests equally on us all. But the victors write history; the empowered define what evil is.

The sixty million who voted for Trump can be judged as legitimate by history, or by simple arithmetic. And the Supreme Court Justices may have been wrong, but it was us who empowered their mistake.

We say tonight and last night that humanity lost. But the victors will say that humanity has won.

It’s up to all of us to define what humanity is. Hold on to the definition you know to be right. And at the earliest possible moment, give these children a dictionary.

Right now: it is by our own rules that we must to accept this new world order of hate and lawlessness.

But there’s still tomorrow.

#NeverAgain #MarcosNotAHero #NeverForget #MayBukasPa

And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.

Alcuin (735-804 CE)

tl;dr the world isn’t fair, and it isn’t fun, just or healthy. but it’s the world we have and the world we created. so we either suck it up or we change it.

Blog, Essays

filipino liberalism, the ties that bind, and the illusion of immutability

M recently remarked that I haven’t been posting anything other than art and poetry (and korean dramas), so here is a rant.

No editing. 💕💕💕 Lots of redundancies. Lots of sense.


Privilege protects me from the consequences of my liberalism.
Continue reading “filipino liberalism, the ties that bind, and the illusion of immutability”

ArtLit, Blog, Essays, Travel

Jari x 2015

Fifteen minutes to the new year. Time for a 2015 recap!
People x Art x Travel x Advocacy

x People

This year, I learned that relationships don’t always have to be quick and intense, or (conversely) slow-burning and infrequent to be sustainable. I found my time occupied by new and old friends I somehow managed to not get tired of.

So here’s an enthusiastic hurrah for the people who made 2015 awesome, from old friends to new ones, from orgmates to family members. I love you all.

x Art

This year, I’ve done quite a fair bit in terms of my craft. I made good use of the calligraphy set my sister gave, I began to paint watercolor portraits, and I wrote lots of poetry. I even joined (and lost) more essay contests!

And to gain more inspiration, I visited more museums and watched more performance art shows. I learned to stop and smell the roses.

x Travel

This year, my travel diary became quite full. From our unforgettable trip to Japan (x), to the even more unforgettable Bali trip (no blog post yet), to our last-minute Baguio trip two weeks ago –the world had a lot to offer this 2015. I’m looking forward to even more moments in 2016!

x Advocacy

And not to forget the things I believe in: love. This year, I became more aware of the plight of the Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines. I also learned more about intersectional representation, more forms of oppression, and life in general. And I’ve made more of an effort to feature Philippine culture, art and music in this blog, because our country has a lot of wonderful things to offer. #LabanPilipinas #Art

I did a lot of growing up in 2015, and I have a lot of people and moments to thank for it. Here’s to a whole new year of falling in love with life!

Follow me on Instagram! (x)


Blog, Essays

i don’t hate indigenous peoples, but i never learned to love them either

an essay on the absent narratives of indigenous peoples in the philippines, by jari

The plight of indigenous peoples (IPs) against the reality of ethnic cleansing is a battlecry some people are willing to take to its bitter end [1][2]. Since the inception of nation-states as we know them, indigenous peoples have been fighting against the desecration and exploitation of their ancestral lands, culture and humanity. This is the rousing thesis behind the martyrdom of Macli-ing Dulag, and the present day campaign to #StopLumadKillings [3]. But even in the most optimistic victory, changes to ensure legislative recognition and state protection of IPs will pale and eventually crumble against the overwhelming effect of insidious social narratives.

It’s very easy for us to blame the state: it’s the state’s fault that people are dying, it’s the problem of the law that indigenous peoples are being abused and defeated, it’s an issue with national security. And in many ways, it is the failure of the state that we have to address. But there must be a reason why our clamors for change don’t take root and gain momentum. There must be a reason why our politicians and our society decided to be self-interested, and why we don’t view the harms to indigenous peoples as harms to our nation.

I suggest: the cycle of indigenous oppression begins and ends not in the structural machineries of the state, but in the hearts of every modern-day Filipino who enters the classroom and hears nothing of the lives of our brothers and sisters.

Continue reading “i don’t hate indigenous peoples, but i never learned to love them either”

ArtLit, Blog, Essays

I’ll keep writing.

Poetry from last week. Late night inspirations: friends in love, moments with Mr. Phantom, social anxieties.

In vague chronological order.


i stripped myself of all regrets
and sterilized my life of guilt
the world lacks the strength to hold me
i am a ghost in my own city


if you are a monster,
then i am a god.
we are neither of us made
for this kind of love.

if we are
angry, destructive & weak, 
then this love isn't meant to be.
and so then
we are

we are better.
we are more human. 
we are more. 


"utilitarian sociability"
  "selective attention"
"individualistic pursuits"

Plus a whole essay on my inability to say yes to the good things in life.


                                                i like it best.

                           when you've got your lips 
          pressed against the back of my neck;
your arms wrapped gentle around my waist

                                            and your heart



                                 we are, 


Life Update 

One: I’m done with NMAT.

Two: I’m not done yet with our thesis, special projects and other academic work.

Three: Hi.

ArtLit, Blog, Essays

Exhibit: Ambeth Ocampo’s Rizal without the Overcoat

We were walking around and stumbled upon this.


Ayala Museum presents… 

Rizal without the Overcoat by Ambeth Ocampo has been in print for a quarter of a century and remains one of the most enjoyable means to re-discover the National Hero who has been fossilized in bronze and marble. Filipinos come to know Rizal through his image on the one peso coin, the basic unit of currency. Others recognize Rizal from the many monuments of him that dot the landscape from Aparri to Jolo. We see Rizal but hardly notice that the heavy winter overcoat he wears or carries is not appropriate to the tropical Philippines. Seeing Rizal plain, without the overcoat, makes him human and relevant to Filipinos of another generation he lived and died for. Rizal without the Overcoat is not the last word on the hero, 25 years later there remains a lot more to know about Rizal. Visit for more details.


This and the recent historical and action-packed biopic HENERAL LUNA remind me of a few chilling truths: 

I think it can make you feel a bit cold and haunted –literal chills– to remember that people like them did exist, and monsters like them as well. That the characters in our history books once lived in technicolor, and they had depth and emotions and complexities; that they were human, just like us, and that they were great in ways we may have forgotten how to be.

To think that centuries and eons ago, with foreign tools and on strange papers, with classic brushes and fresh canvases, intellectuals and heroes and geniuses like Jose Rizal, Apolinario Mabini, Juan and Antonio Luna once thought, rallied, survived. We are witnesses to echoes of blazing youths. The tricks time plays on our minds.

Blog, Essays

Rec: “How it feels when white people shame your culture’s food — then make it trendy” by Ruth Tam

The article which inspired this post (x):

“How it feels when white people shame your culture’s food — then make it trendy” by Ruth Tam on the Washington Post | My family’s food went from ‘Chinese grossness’ to America’s ‘hottest food trend.’

The best meals are more than the sum of their ingredients; their flavors tell the stories of the rich cultures that created them. When the same respect is afforded to immigrant food as traditional “American” food, eating it will sate us in more ways than one.


The unique trials of being distinctly Asian in the western world is one of my very few qualms about pursuing a transnational career and lifestyle in the future.

The ongoing refugee crises in North Africa and across Europe, and in Asia Pacific, are relevant demonstrations of persistent xenophobia against people who are not white. The immigration issue that is the topic of heated debates in election-frenzied USA recalls mentions of post-9/11 racism, ‘unjust’ displacement of labor, and ‘distasteful’ citizenship grants.

As a Filipino, I’ve heard stories.

Most probably, any Filipino working abroad must strive to remove traces of the ‘exotic’ for any sort of professional advancement and recognition of authority. I must play into a culture that represents values that differ from the ones I grew up with. This concession is fair to a certain extend, because I did enter a foreign space with foreign values. The majority dictates social norms. But where do we draw the line between adaptation for ‘cultural harmony’ versus adaptation for a ‘cultural hegemony’?

As a nationalist, this is problematic. In the safety of my home and my country, I am adamant in saying that ‘I am proud to be a Filipino’. I have the strength and the confidence to say that wherever I go, I will proudly declare the same. And even in the context of global citizenry, my expression of my identity as a Filipino and as an Asian is theoretically necessary for the creation of diversified discourse. When people of underrepresented nationalities go abroad, the perspectives they add to any conversation should enrich both intersecting cultures.

Obviously, that’s not the case. There is a pressure to survive and a pressure to adapt that makes it less likely for anyone to be overtly different. While there are exceptions to the case, and even though we millennials like to parrot uniqueness and individuality, some identities are still more palatable than others. And that identity happens to be dressed up in privilege.

It seems like pnly the privileged majority has the full right to the values of uniqueness and individuality. As someone belonging to the ‘other’, my ability to be unique is diluted by my need to belong. Otherwise, I cannot enter a cohesive space for work and productivity. I will be too foreign.

There are generalizations to contend with. I have to either actively distance myself from the stereotype which equates any Southeast Asian to a domestic helper (which is not inherently a bad profession, but that requires another discussion), or to actively play into subservience because that’s easier to understand and digest. At some point in time, I may have to defend that the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and Indonesia are in fact all different countries, though the people may look similar. I belong only the first of them.

I’ll be constantly thanking my bilingual roots for giving me the dialectical dynamism needed to quickly adopt accents. I was born here, I’ll imply with every twang and every unpronounced ‘r’. I’ll have to excuse my hard-to-pronounce name, which, if I were any whiter and my nose any higher-bridged, would have been accepted.

With a name like mine, I could have been a Spanish expat, not a Filipino migrant.

I’ll have to accept that behind my back some people will still call me a ‘brown monkey’ despite my achievements, or will wonder condescendingly at the food I try to cook or the mannerisms I try to suppress.

How quaint, they might say, as I tell stories of my life in the Philippines –as if by virtue of being born somewhere ‘other’, I was more or less inherently disadvantaged and therefore inherently less.


This has been a scheduled post.

Also a photo of me, a Filipina, with the Global Health Debates (xlogo. We hosted and competed in this international tournament. I’ll post about it someday.


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